For years I maintained that the Keylab Essential MIDI controller was one of the best value-for-money controllers you could buy. My thoughts on this haven’t changed although Arturia recently dropped their latest version of the Keylab Essentials lineup. And much to my delight they’ve done what I’d always hoped by introducing deeper integration with my DAW (Ableton Live) making it even more hands-on, easier to set-up (with other DAWs too) and further customisable options.
The performance pads have been redesigned from the previous version making them a little larger and more satisfying to play, plus they also respond to pressure. What I like most is the simplified way these can be used triggering clips in Ableton Live’s Session view, handy for jamming in the studio and performing live, to playing samples from drum racks. The additional features on the new Keylab Essential MK3 are awesome and super simple to get your head around especially when navigating between channels and controlling your session mixer.
One of my favourite upgrades is the redesigned chord and arp functions, that is easier to use and implement into your workflow. It’s now possible to access pre-set chord types and play them with a single key. Use the display to easily cycle through variety of chord types whilst being able to assign a root note and scale. This is great for coming up with quick musical ideas and chord progressions whilst staying in key.
We will undoubtedly see lots more content, tutorials, and reviews in the very near future because there is so much more to this new controller.